Feb-March 2010

Day 1 of Diary

Day 10 - Mbweni Ruins Hotel, Zanzibar

We left Mdonya camp at about 9.00 am in order to reach Msembe airstrip in time for our 11.45 flight to Dar via Selous.

It was sad to say goodbye to Micol and all the friendly staff. I knew that when I came here again, they would remember me, even though I had only stayed for three nights - Tanzanians never forget a face.

We were handed a rather good packed lunch in a brown paper bag, beautifully labelled with a lion drawing on the tag.

Two Coastal planes were at the Msembe Airstrip when we arrived – one had “slept” there for the night, and was ready to depart for Arusha. The other had come from Dar with passengers for Ruaha and Arusha. We boarded the Dar plane, which was manned by Senior Captain Aziz.

Flying over the Great Ruaha River
We floated over the Great Ruaha River

We took off over the Great Ruaha, winding like a silver ribbon through the green and blue plains and hills.

We flew over Iringa and headed south towards the Selous, a flight of about one hour and thirty minutes. We stopped at two airstrips, Siwandu and Mtemere, off-loading and collecting passengers; Coastal Aviation is a vital link for all the bush camps, both in the north and in the south of Tanzania. Thee are several other good airlines with light aircraft, but none have the extensive schedule of Coastal, who fly from Kilwa in the south east to Mwanza and Kigali in the north west.

We said goodbye to Selous for the last time, and headed for Dar (about 45 minutes) and then on over the ocean to Zanzibar (another 25 minutes).

Flying in to Zanzibar
Flying in to Zanzibar

I arrived in the coral islands at about 2.30, having come about 1000 km across Tanzania.

I was met by smiling faces at Zanzibar Airport, and quickly whisked by the hotel driver Pius, in the air-conditioned minibus to Mbweni Ruins. As we neared it, I glimpsed the coral brown ruins set in their botanic gardens, with turquoise glints of ocean behind. We drove into the shady car park and I felt I was coming home.

more coming tomorrow....

.....forward to Day 11

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